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[liberationtech] StoryMaker - opinions

Brian Conley brianc at
Wed Jul 24 23:10:10 PDT 2013

Hi Bill!

Thanks for your interest, comments below.

> The app is open source (+1) and the developers behind it include Free
Press Unlimited, The Guardian Project and Small World News so its
provenance is indeed sound.

Thanks Bill! We all know its a huge challenge but we are trying hard to
achieve it. Nathan has already done a fantastic job explaining the
technical details, so I only have a few additional comments, but I'm happy
to speak with you directly, or any other member of the list who would like
to know more.

Firstly we can say that our partners reach approached the problem from a
slightly different direction. We at Small World News come from a background
working primarily in conflict areas and wanted to find a way to increase
the safety of citizen journalists while also improving the impact their
content can make by increasing their professionalism and capacity to tell

I hope Niels from Free Press Unlimited will chime in, but I can say without
their focus on increasing the potential for mobile learning to improve the
skills of journalists, the learning and curriculum side of the app would
not be what it is.

> The StoryMaker literature mentions a number of times that the app is to
be used for "safely reporting and sharing stories" and I wonder how this
has been substantiated - with particular regard to the fact that it is
expected that this app will facilitate free journalism in the (hopefully)
emerging democracies of the Middle East:

As Nathan mentioned he has been deeply involved in planning the security
functionality, workflow, threat model, etc.

Additionally, the system for delivering lessons utilizes SSL certificate
pinning to counter MITM attacks and limit the necessity for activists and
journalism trainees to carry hard copies and insecure manuals. Eventually
this content should exist entirely in an encrypted container.

> It would be interesting/useful to know how StoryMaker can offer to
protect a user's safety or, as no absolute guarantees can ever be made, up
to what degree of security can be expected from this app. So far, I have
found a short reference to users "are able to send data from their
smartphone through the Tor network making it difficult to trace".

As Nathan has mentioned, there are a number of elements already functioning
as part of StoryMaker and by next month we will have a new release that
integrates obscuracam functionality and hopefully records content directly
in an encrypted fashion.

We are also pursuing funding to develop the potential for users to publish
to additional platforms over tor via their public API, and including an
option for uploading via tor to a private server.

> StoryMaker looks an excellent app and we are looking at its use by
citizen journalists.

I hope you like it! So far its being treated and implemented in Iraq,
Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Morocco, and Zimbabwe. We are pursuing some
additional opportunities as well, and clearly need to start blogging more
regularly about the projects progress.

Don't hesitate to get in touch if you have other questions or know
individuals who might like further information or support deploying
StoryMaker in their projects.

Thanks do much for the interest!!


> Many thanks and best regards
> Bill
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